17 April 2007

1614) Turkish Views on U.S. Congress Armenian Resolutions : A New Nationwide Poll

Results of the Survey:
Rarely does the Congress of the United States exclusively hold the key to America’s foreign relations with a critical ally. But now, with Turkey, the only Muslim country in the world allied with the United States in NATO, the future of Turkish-American relations are solely in the hands of Congress.

Both the House and Senate are currently considering various resolutions formally recognizing as organized genocide the events from 1915-23 in Turkey’s predecessor state of the Ottoman Empire. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged to bring a resolution before the House in April 2007. . .

According to the first nationwide public opinion survey of Turkey on this issue, Congressional passage of any resolution would actually set back the cause it purports to achieve, namely Turkey’s recognition of its own past and reconciliation with Armenia today.

The feelings of the Turkish people on this historical issue run unusually deep. 78 percent of Turks oppose any U.S. Congressional resolution. And nearly three- quarters feel that passage of an Armenian resolution will worsen their opinion of the United States.

The more significant finding of the survey, however, is not the opposition of the Turkish people, but how profoundly that opposition is felt. Almost four-fifths of Turks favor strong action by the Turkish government if an Armenian resolution passes, including suspension of diplomatic relations with the United States. Only 7 percent would favor no action by the Turkish government. A plurality of Turks indicated that they would even boycott American products.
Critically, Turks surveyed feel so powerfully about this issue that should a resolution pass, 83 percent would oppose Turkey assisting the United States in neighboring Iraq.

The reasons for Turkish opinion have less to do with the historical issue of whether or not organized genocide occurred than with outside American political judgment of Turkish history. In fact, three-quarters of all Turks would accept scholarship by independent historians on what occurred between Turks and Armenians during 1915.
Seven percent of Turks surveyed even favor passage of a resolution because they believe that Turkey must recognize the past wrong of its genocide against Armenians.

The problem for most Turks is that they do not consider the U.S. Congress a neutral judge of this issue. Instead, Turks largely see the resolution as driven by anti-Muslim feelings and American domestic politics.

Indeed, if the goal of a Congressional resolution is to promote reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia today, 73 percent of Turks think a resolution will have the opposite effect and actually worsen relations between Turkey and Armenia.

The views of Turks are firmly held regardless of age, income, education or even their present view of the United States. Significantly, 84 percent of those who now have a very favorable opinion of the United States responded that their opinion would deteriorate if the resolution passes.

The consensus among the Turkish people against a resolution by the U.S. Congress on the issue of the Armenian genocide is not only virtually universal, but also so powerfully felt that it could push anti-American (and ironically anti-Armenian) feelings to the abyss.

Results for the surveys are based on face-to-face interviews among a representative nationwide random sample of the adult population conducted in Turkish. Fieldwork occurred in all 15 provinces of Turkey between January 27, 2007 and February 8, 2007 with a total of 1,021 interviews conducted among those 18 and older, with a margin of error of +/- 3.06 percent.

Analysis and Recommendation:
In addition to further alienating the United States from Turkey and the broader Muslim world, the most important issue before the Congress should be how the United States best can help its ally Turkey acknowledge its past and reconcile with Armenia in the present.

Rather than win Turkish empathy, an Armenian resolution from Congress will simply harden public attitudes in Turkey — and most likely in Armenia as well. After all, if the parliament of Turkey, or for that matter, Russia or France, were to pass a resolution condemning the United States for the genocide of American Indians in the 19th century, would that lead to acceptance and reconciliation in the US, or merely condemnation of the foreign government who judged American history?

The task before the Congress should be to help promote a neutral, independent and credible mechanism, which while acknowledging past wrongs can also further present reconciliation. That neutral forum should not only include expert historians, legal scholars and political leaders from both Turkey and Armenia, but similar representatives from other countries as well.

Key Findings of Poll in Turkey:
• 78% oppose resolution by the U.S. Congress on the issue of the Armenian genocide in 1915, irrespective of the wording of the actual resolution;
• 7% of Turks surveyed favor passage of a US Congressional resolution, primarily because they believe that Turkey must recognize the past wrong of its genocide against Armenians;
• The most important reason Turks oppose an Armenian Genocide resolution is that they do not consider the U.S. Congress a neutral judge of this historical issue;
• 74% think that the most important reasons that the U.S. Congress would approve an Armenian resolution are anti-Muslim feelings and American domestic politics;


• If the U.S. Congress approves an Armenian resolution:
.. 83% would oppose or strongly oppose Turkey assisting the United States in Iraq;
.. 73% said it will worsen their opinion of the United States;
.. 79% would favor strong action by the Turkish government in response (only 7% no action);
.. 78% would boycott American products, vote for candidates that oppose America, or demonstrate (11% would take no action);
.. 73% think the effect of passage would worsen relations between Turkey and Armenia;
.. 84% of those who are now very favorable to the United States would change their opinion for the worse;
• While most Turks are opposed to American political judgment on the historical issue of the Armenian genocide, three-quarters of all Turks would accept scholarship by independent historians on what occurred between Turks and Armenians in 1915.


Chart 1: Turkish Views of US Congressional Armenian Genocide Resolution
78%
7 %
Oppose
Favor

Chart 2: Most Important Reasons for Opposition
42 %
36 %
18 %
Armenian Genocide did not occur
US Congress Not Neutral Judge
Issue Should Be Resolved by Historians


Chart 3: Most Important Reasons for Favoring Passage
50%
26 %
14%
US Cong. Resolution not binding law and Doesn’t Affect Official US Policy
Turkey should recognize past wrong of genocide against Armenians
Will help reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia

Chart 4: Most Important Reason That US Congress Would Approve Armenian Resolution
42 %
31 %
12 %
Armenian Genocide is a Proven Historical Fact
Anti-Muslim Feelings in US
Domestic Politics in US

Chart 5: If Congress Approves Armenian Resolution, What is the Effect?
83 %
79 %
78 %
73 %
73 %
Boycott US Goods/
Support Anti-America Candidate/
Demonstrate
Favor Turkish Govt. Taking Strong Action
Worsen Opinion of US
Worsen Relations between Turkey and Armenia
Oppose Turkey Assisting US in Iraq

Chart 6: If Congress Approves Armenian Resolution, What is the Effect on Turks who now have a Very Favorable Opinion of the US?
84%
82%
79%
76%
76%
Boycott US Goods/
Support Anti-America Candidate/ Demonstrate
Favor Turkish Govt. Taking Strong Action
Worsen Opinion of US
Worsen Relations between Turkey and Armenia
Oppose Turkey Assisting US in Iraq

Chart 7: Percent of Turks Who Would Accept Scholarship by Independent Historians on 1915 Turkish/Armenian Events
75 %
15 %
Yes
No


Methodology
Results for the surveys are based on face-to-face interviews among a representative nationwide random sample of the adult population conducted in Turkish. Fieldwork occurred nationwide in all 15 provinces of Turkey between January 27, 2007 and February 8, 2007 with a total of 1,021 interviews conducted among those 18 and older, and a margin of error of +/- 3.06 %. The sampling frame is designed on the basis of NUTS system (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics). Results of the last national census conducted in 2000, which is the most updated dataset provided by TURKSTAT (Turkish Statistical Institute, formerly known as State Institute of Statistics), is used to calculate geographical distribution of the sample.



Detailed Topline Results of Turkey on U.S. Congressional Resolution
1. The U.S. Congress is considering a resolution, which will recognize—I will now read to you its exact words: “the Armenian Genocide.” Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, are neutral, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose this resolution?
Feb 2007

Strongly Favor 4.2% Somewhat Favor 3.2 Neutral 8.5 Somewhat oppose 11.4 Strongly oppose 66.3 Don’t know/No Answer 6.3 Total Oppose 77.7 Total Favor 7.4

2. The U.S. Congress is considering another resolution, which calls upon the Government of Turkey—I will now read to you its exact words: “to acknowledge the culpability of its predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire, for the Armenian Genocide.” Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, are neutral, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose this resolution?
Feb 2007

Strongly Favor 4.4% Somewhat Favor 3.2 Neutral 8.4 Somewhat oppose 12.3 Strongly oppose 65.6 Don’t know/No Answer 6.0 Total Oppose 77.9 Total Favor 7.6


2A. If opposed, what is the most important reason that you oppose either of these Armenian resolutions by the United States? (Rotate choices)
Feb 2007

The U.S. Congress is not a neutral judge of Turkey’s history 42.4% The Armenian Genocide did not occur 36.1 This issue should be resolved by historians 17.5 Don’t Know/No Answer 4.0

2B. If in favor, what is the most important reason that you favor either of these Armenian resolutions by the United States? (Rotate choices)
Feb 2007

Turkey should recognize the past wrong of its genocide against Armenians
50.0%
Turkish recognition of the Armenian genocide will help reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia
13.7
The U.S. Congress resolution is not binding law and will not affect official American policy toward Turkey
26.1
Don’t Know/No Answer
9.2

3. If the U.S. Congress approves either of these Armenian resolutions, will that improve your opinion of the United States, have no effect, or worsen your opinion of the United States?
Feb 2007

Improve opinion of United States 4.5% Have no effect 13.7 Worsen opinion of the United States 73.3 Don’t know/No Answer 8.6

4. If the U.S. Congress approves either of these Armenian resolutions, would you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose Turkey assisting the United States in Iraq?
Feb 2007

Strongly Favor 2.6% Somewhat Favor 5.9 Somewhat oppose 25.5 Strongly oppose 57.4 Don’t know/No Answer 8.7 Total Oppose 82.9 Total Favor 8.5

5. If the U.S. Congress approves either of these Armenian resolutions, would you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose Turkey supporting American efforts for a unified state of Iraq?
Feb 2007

Strongly Favor 5.2% Somewhat Favor 9.2 Somewhat oppose 22.3 Strongly oppose 54.1 Don’t know/No Answer 9.2 Total Oppose 76.4 Total Favor 14.4

6. If the U.S. Congress approves either of these Armenian resolutions, please choose which single action, if any, that you would be most likely to take? (Rotate choices)
Feb 2007

Boycott American products 41.8% Demonstrate against the United States 11.4 Vote for political candidates who oppose American efforts in Iraq 25.0 Take no action 10.9 Don't know/ No Answer 10.8 Total Take Action 78.2 Total Take No Action 10.9

7. If the U.S. Congress approves either of these Armenian resolutions, please choose which single action, if any, you would most favor that the Government of Turkey take? (Rotate choices)
Feb 2007

Issue an official protest to the United States 24.0% Suspend cultural and educational exchanges with the United States 5.9 Suspend cooperation with American efforts in Iraq 19.5 Suspend diplomatic relations with the United States 29.9 Take no action 6.7 Don't know/No Answer 14.0 Total Take Action 79.3 Total Take No Action 6.7

8. If the U.S. Congress approves either of these Armenian resolutions, what do you think is the most important reason for the approval? (Rotate choices)
Feb 2007

Anti-Muslim feelings in the United States 42.2% U.S. Congress believes that the Armenian Genocide is a proven historical fact 12.3 Domestic politics in the United States which have nothing to do with Turkey 31.4 Other 1.0 Don't know/No Answer 13.1

9. If the U.S. Congress approves either of these Armenian resolutions, in your opinion, will that improve relations between Turkey and Armenia, have no effect, or make relations worse between Turkey and Armenia?
Feb 2007

Improve relations between Turkey and Armenia 2.7% Have no effect 14.8 Worsen relations between Turkey and Armenia 73.0 Don’t know/No Answer 9.5

10. Would you accept scholarship by independent historians on what occurred between Turks and Armenians during 1915 and after?
Feb 2007

Yes 75.2% No 15.2 Don’t know/No Answer 9.6

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